“Change happens when good hearts act” – Pam Ahern
Ah, Integrity. A value highly sort after which can be elusive. So what is integrity? Well one way of saying it is – “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” (attributed to various authors).
The word Integrity embodies a wholeness or a solidarity. We say that a structure has integrity when all its parts work together. They support and uphold the whole structure. When a part is missing or ceases to function effectively, then the integrity of the whole structure is compromised. An enterprise may likewise have integrity when the individuals and the systems of the enterprise align with the vision.
Yet for many, personal integrity is a place of pain. Many do not know what personal integrity looks like.
Having personal integrity to me is:
- living according to our values,
- to do what your heart knows to be true,
- living up to your highest good, which is the “whole” of us,
- To make corrections when we find that we have been less than true to ourselves, especially our highest self.
It is also to be open to the possibilities of who you can become, to the higher part of you that desires a more expanded, more fulfilling life. Living with this type of integrity brings a life of freedom. Never compromise your personal or your artistic integrity. Never settle for anything but your absolute best effort – an effort that may be exhausting and frustrating, but that will ultimately serve you in good stead as a creative and as a human being.
It means producing our best work, not motivated by external motives such as profit, rather from the inner desire to produce what is our great work.
In our engagement with other people and with our work, there is a tendency to seek out those with integrity. There is a higher level of trust where integrity is found. When seeking those who exhibit integrity, we often look for:
- One who tells the truth in simple, easily understandable language without manipulation of people or a distortion of the facts, for their own agenda.
- A person who is transparent as to their reasons and actions.
- One who keeps their commitments or communicates early – when a change is necessary.
- A person who accepts responsibility, avoiding the “blame game” or deflecting.
- One who is willing to face tough issues and discuss them honestly, even receiving answers they don’t like.
- One who is willing to become their higher, more noble self, finding their purpose and becoming a better influence.
Living life through your integrity provides a light to the world. This empowers others with the possibility of who they could become – finding their purpose. Just as a stone dropped into a pond creates a ripple effect, so too, living a life of integrity from the heart ripples out to touch others. Ram Dass’s quote; “We’re all just walking each other home“, reminds us that when we support one another’s journey, we can live a more purposed life, and we walk each other home.
When our words and our actions align, in harmony with our higher self. We discover a power in living that frees us from living a smaller life, focused on the little things. And we see more clearly what is really happening, we hear more clearly what is being communicated, whether spoken or conveyed in some other way. We act more thoughtfully and naturally from our true self. Joy in life becomes easier. “Problems” seem smaller, requiring less energy.
A group also has an integrity. Where there is common vision and joint action in the direction of that vision, there is an integrity in the whole group. But what happens when the individuals or the systems in the group become separate? As we said earlier, integrity embodies a wholeness or solidarity. A separateness or pulling apart weakens the whole group causing it to be less effective.
As we look at public groups including political parties and companies, we quickly decide whether they exhibit integrity and we therefore choose how much we trust them. The integrity is shown in the cohesiveness of their actions, as both, a collective group and as individuals. A place where African politics struggles a lot.
With our personal integrity, we measure how aligned our actions are to our values. We decide how connected we feel to our higher self if we take those actions, or to how diminished we feel if we don’t. When the inner voice or light speaks and we act accordingly, we have acted with integrity.
In the William Shakespeare play, Hamlet, Polonius gave some advice to his departing son Laertes: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” (Spoken by Polonius in Hamlet Act 1, Scene 3 )
We owe it to ourselves and to the world to be our best versions, in private life and in public life. Once you master this it is easier to pour yourself out to the world and embrace your purpose. As always, hope you and yours are well. Please share with us your thoughts in the comments section, we would love to hear from you.